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How do I use this book?

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What is involved in each activity?

Each section includes the following parts:

  • Section heading—Lists one thing you can do to help your child. Information about some general ways to include these things in your day appears underneath the heading.
  • Why are these activities important?—Explains the goals and purposes of the activities within the section.
  • Affirmation—Is drawn from African and African American quotations and proverbs. There is no right or wrong interpretation of the meaning. But, these sayings can give you something to think about while doing the activity.
  • Activity—Focuses on a poem, an art project, a song or music, or a craft. These activities can help children express feelings that may be hard to say out loud. If your child doesn’t like these activities, use another activity your child does like to reach the same goals. Each activity includes:
    • What you need—Is a list of things you can use to do the activity. These items are only suggested materials; you can still do the activity without these exact items. The activities use things supplied in this book, or things that people have in their homes already, so you don’t have to buy new things.
    • Description—Provides some background on the activity. If, when you’re reading this description, you think of an activity that would be better for your child, then go ahead and use it.
    • Steps for doing the activity—Describes each step for completing an activity with your child. Do only those steps you feel are right for your child.
  • Things to Remember—Includes important things to keep in mind while doing the activities.
  • Note to Parents—Offers some important facts or information that you can use during the activity or to get more information about a certain topic.
  • Did you know?—Provides facts and additional information about a topic included in an activity or description.

How do I do these activities?

You can do the activities in a family group with children of different ages; or you can do them during quiet time with just you and your child. Within each section:

  • The activities that appear first are best for younger children and include things that most children can do and enjoy.
  • The later activities are better for more mature children, including those who can read and write easily, and those who are comfortable being creative.

As you do the activities, try not to disapprove of or be negative about how well your child completes each task. Sometimes, when parents make comments, children turn off and tune out. There is no best way to do these activities. Let your child take the lead and guide you through the activity.


The text in this book takes turns using he/his, she/hers, and other male-female pronouns. Even if the text says he, you can still do the activity with your daughter; or, even if the text says to help your child do something herself, you can still have your son do the activity.

*Adapted from: Playground Politics: Understanding the Emotional Life of Your School-Age Child, Stanley Greenspan, M.D., Addison-Wesley Publishing Co. 1993. And A Sympathetic Understanding of the Child: Birth to Sixteen, David Elkind, Allyn and Bacon, 1974.

*Adapted from: Different and Wonderful: Raising Black Children in a Race-Conscious Society, Darlene Hopson, Ph.D. and Derek Hopson, Ph.D. Prentice Hall Press, 1990.

Are these activities right for my child?

These activities are appropriate for both boys and girls. Your child’s interests should determine your approach to the activities.

Children have different talents, interests, and gifts, and these qualities can change based on a child’s age. For this reason, the activities are designed so that you can easily change them to fit your child’s age, interests, and talents. You can also use these activities as a starting point for ideas from your child or your family. Please adapt the activities for children with special needs. Do what works best with your children and your family.

Is my child too old or too young for these activities?

This book doesn’t give strict guidelines for the activities because, no matter what their age, children have many different gifts, talents, and interests. But, as you plan to do each activity with your child, you may want to think about how your child is changing and developing. The information below describes some general qualities* of children at different ages. You may notice some of your child’s qualities in these lists.

Young school-aged children (ages 5 to 7):

  • Enjoy arts and crafts
  • Can draw and use scissors with effort (keep the time short)
  • Like the support of adults
  • Can be shy and worry
  • Hold bold ideas and fantasies
  • May not have words or labels for feelings

Middle school-aged children (ages 8 to 10):

  • Enjoy a variety of arts and crafts
  • Are more interested in the process than the results
  • Are beginning to use words for emotions
  • Can organize ideas about emotions

Older school-aged children (ages 11 to 12):

  • Have adult-like abilities in arts and crafts
  • Have words for emotions
  • Use sarcasm in their communication
  • Understand and empathize with the feelings of others

Many children, including those with special needs, may have qualities that are listed in all three age groups. Or, they may have features that aren’t listed. Do what works best for your child’s developmental stage.

What should I do during the activities?

For these activities to be most helpful, you need to be still and listen to your child. Make sure your child has your complete attention. When doing these activities, stop doing chores, talking on the phone, or watching television. You need to be an active listener.

When your child is talking, you can be an active listener* by:

  • Sitting on a chair or on the floor to be close to your child’s height
  • Relaxing your face and body
  • Not tapping fingers or frowning
  • Responding with a nod or by saying “Mm Hmm”
  • Making eye contact
  • Waiting for your child to finish—not interrupting
  • Asking questions that can’t be answered with just a yes or no
  • Saying back to the child part of his or her point By creating healthy ways for your child to talk about feelings and to express what’s inside, you may find out things that trouble you. The Just for Parents section at the back of this book offers some ways to help your child and where to go for help when you think your child’s feelings are more than you can handle alone.

Some things to remember while doing these activities:

  • Take time to plan each activity before you do it. Make sure to set aside time to do the activity with your child. You may decide to not answer the phone or to keep the TV off while doing the activities.
  • Make it fun! These activities aren’t meant to be homework. They are a way to get to know your child. So don’t force the activity on your child.
  • Choose arts and crafts or activities that your child likes.
  • Pay attention to your child’s reactions and comments during the activities. Your child may give you hints about other activities that would be more enjoyable.
  • Talk to your child about the activity when you are finished. These activities are supposed to increase communication between you and your child. So talk to your child about how the activity made him feel, or what she liked about an activity. Use the activity as a way to get to know your child.
  • Take care to be positive in your comments. Use these activities as a way to start being more positive in what you say to your child.
  • Let your child tell you about the finished product and share it with others. Help your child take pride in what she has accomplished.
  • Praise your child’s efforts, even if it doesn’t come out exactly like you think it should. And even if it doesn’t turn out like he wanted it to.
  • Doing the activity together is what makes it special.

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Last Reviewed: 09/13/2006
Vision National Institutes of Health Home BOND National Institues of Health Home Home Storz Lab: Section on Environmental Gene Regulation Home Machner Lab: Unit on Microbial Pathogenesis Home Division of Intramural Population Health Research Home Bonifacino Lab: Section on Intracellular Protein Trafficking Home Lilly Lab: Section on Gamete Development Home Lippincott-Schwartz Lab: Section on Organelle Biology